Kent Allen Womack operates Woodhaven Senior Living in Dade County, Georgia. He was arrested and transported to the Dade County Jail, where he has been charged with cruelty to persons over the age of 65. He is also on an investigative hold pending further charges. Photo courtesy of Dade County Sheriff.
The sheriff said his office was called on Monday by a family member who reported that the owner announced all the residents were being evicted and had to be out of the facility within an hour. The residents are frail, disabled people between ages 61 and 97.
State inspectors from the Georgia Department of Community Health had found a long list of serious infractions at the home during a 2019 complaint investigation, but the home was allowed to remain open. The home reeked of urine, was understaffed and workers weren’t properly trained. Residents with dementia or serious illnesses that required constant assistance weren’t properly monitored or cared for in a home where a single staff member had to attend to 12 residents, Residents developed bedsores, wandered, or weren’t checked frequently. They remained in soiled clothes or even on the floor waiting for help due to the understaffing, the inspector noted.
State records show that a state inspector also checked out a complaint against the facility in May 2020 but did not cite the home for any rule violations. A spokeswoman would not reveal the nature of the 2020 complaint on Wednesday, saying the AJC would have to file a request under the Georgia Open Records Act to obtain information. She said the state had not received prior complaints or information about the lack of air conditioning for the residents. “We are now investigating these allegations,” she said.
An Atlanta Journal-Constitution investigation of Georgia’s senior care industry published in 2019 found that homes are often understaffed and workers routinely lack training. While the state passed a new slate of laws in response to the series, advocates say more needs to be done.
“It’s important to note that the problems with this home pre-date the pandemic and weren’t addressed two years ago,” said Kathy Floyd, executive director of the Georgia Council on Aging. “If Georgians are horrified by this story, they need to let lawmakers know. GCOA has lobbied for improvements, but Georgians need to make better care for the elderly a priority.”